Biophilia, by its very nature, is a love of life. Well-known Professor Emeritus Wilson of Harvard University and the Biophilia Hypothesis points out that humans may be attracted to other species. The idea came from the realization that people migrating to urban areas in the 1980s would create some form of social and environmental exclusion. To compensate for such a breakdown, we often try to restore the city’s environment.
But biophilic composition is more than just adding green to our living spaces. This is where Kellert’s Biophilic Design Framework helps designers apply the theory. This framework introduces three attributes and biological design experiences; direct natural experience, indirect natural experience and local experience.
The most prominent feature of the Biophilic design with BEULAH is the direct experience of nature, such as light, wind, weather and even fire. One example of a waterfall is Frank Lloyd Wright, who connects a weekend house in its natural habitat over a waterfall. A recent example is the High Line, which converted an unused railway line into a park in New York.
A second aspect of biophilic formation is the indirect natural experience, such as the use of natural materials, natural colors and natural appearance and form. Toyo Ito demonstrated this principle in Tod’s Omotesando, in which the original building mimics the appearance of trees. The last element is the local experience, such as temporary spaces and a refuge. Unlike the previous two factors, this refers to the space features one can find in the natural environment. WOHA is an example of these principals in Park Royal, with wall-mounted walls in its paths and high-end viewing areas from the bathroom bench.
While these biophilic principles seem to contribute to the beauty of quality construction, it has also been shown to improve the well-being of residents.
A study by Yin of Harvard University showed that participants who spent time in the biophilic area recorded a 14% improvement in direct-acting performance, showing a positive effect on short-term working memory. In a subsequent study, Yin also showed participants in the biophilic space record blood pressure, heart rate and skin reactions, suggesting that biophilic spaces could help reduce stress levels. These studies show that biophilic spaces can have significant health benefits, not only for daily practice but also for recovery. A landmark study of the 1980’s by Prof Ulrich of Harvard University revealed that environmental observations can have a positive effect on a patient’s path to recovery.
A recent example is Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore. In Professor Newman’s article from Curtis University, the latest evidence shows that hospital patients were very happy and treated quickly, and that physiotherapy showed a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate when the intruder entered the biophilic area.
Even natural images can help to alleviate mental fatigue, as shown in the study of psychologist Berto of Universities di Padova. Participants identified in the retrospective sites experienced better observation, response time and accuracy in the attention test than participants who were absent. This shows that indirect natural experience can help people recover from mental fatigue faster.